Pragmatism : A learning theory for the future

In Knud Illeris (ed.), Contemporary Theories of Learning: Learning Theorists -- In Their Own Words. London: Routledge. pp. 74-89 (2009)
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A theory of learning for the future advocates the teaching of a preparedness to respond in a creative way to difference and otherness. This includes an ability to act imaginatively in situations of uncertainties. John Dewey’s pragmatism holds the key to such a learning theory his view of the continuous meetings of individuals and environments as experimental and playful. That pragmatism has not yet been acknowledged as a relevant learning theory for the future may be due to the immediate connotation and the many interpretations associated with the term ‘experience’, which is at the heart of Dewey’s educational thinking. Dewey defi ned experience in a way that is not well understood within educational research, and in a way that is easily confused with the term ‘experiential learning’. The latter refers to the importance of participants’ ‘experiences’ derived from bodily actions and stored in memory as more or less tacit knowledge.

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Bente Elkjaer
University of Aarhus


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